During the last two decades in particular, the concept of "Islamic
terror" has been often discussed. In the wake of the September
11 terrorist attacks on targets in New York and Washington which
caused the death of tens of thousands of innocent civilians, this
concept has once again returned to the top of the international
As Muslims, we completely condemn these attacks and offer our
condolences to the American people.
In this article, we will explain that Islam is by no means the
source of this violence and that violence has no place in Islam.
condemn the cruel terrorist acts which targeted the innocent
people of the United States.
One point that should be stressed at the outset is that the identities
of the perpetrators of the acts of terrorism which targeted the
United States are not yet determined. There is a chance that these
horrible attackers are linked to quite different centres. It may
well be a communist organization harboring rage and hatred against
American values, a fascist organization opposing federal administration
or a secret faction in another state. Even though the hijackers
have Muslim identities, the questions regarding by whom and for
what purposes these people were used will probably remain to be
The fact remains however, that even if the terrorists have Muslim
identities, the terror they perpetrated cannot be labelled "Islamic
terror", just as it would not be called "Jewish terror" if the
perpetrators were Jews or "Christian terror" if they were Christians.
That is because, as we will examine in the following pages, murdering
innocent people in the name of religion is unacceptable. We
need to keep in mind that, among those who were killed in Washington
or New York, there were people who loved Jesus (Christians), Prophet
Moses (Jews) and Muslims. According to Islam, murdering innocent
people is a great sin that, unless forgiven by God, brings torment
Thus, a religious person who has fear of God can never commit
such an act.
In fact, the aggressors can commit such violence only with
the intention of attacking religion itself. It may well be
that they carried out this violence to present religion as evil
in the eyes of people, to divorce people from religion and to
generate hatred and reaction against pious people. Consequently,
every attack having a "religious" facade on American citizens
or other innocent people is actually an attack made against religion.
All the three Theistic religions command love, mercy and peace.
Terror, on the other hand, is the opposite of religion; it is
cruel, merciless and it demands bloodshed and misery. This being
the case, while looking for the perpetrators of a terrorist act,
its origins should be sought in disbelief rather than in religion.
People with a fascist, communist, racist or materialist outlook
on life should be suspected as potential perpetrators. The name
or the identity of the triggerman is not important. If he can
kill innocent people without blinking an eye, whatever his label
is, then he is a disbeliever, not a believer. He is a murderer
with no fear of God, whose main ambition is to shed blood and
to give harm.
For this reason, "Islamic terror" is quite a erroneous concept
which contradicts Islam's message. That is because, the religion
of Islam can by no means concur with terror. On the contrary,
Muslims are responsible for preventing terrorist acts and bringing
peace and justice to the world.
The Values of the Qur'an demands Goodness, Justice
Terror, in its broadest sense, is violence committed against
non-military targets for political purposes. To put it in another
way, the targets of terror are entirely innocent civilians whose
only crime is, in the eyes of terrorists, to represent "the other".
This is an act bereft of any moral justification. This, as in
the case of murders committed by Hitler or Stalin, is a crime
committed against "mankind".
The Qur'an is a Book revealed to people as a guide to the true
path and in this Book, God commands man to adopt good morals.
This morality is based upon concepts such as love, compassion,
tolerance and mercy. God calls all people to Islamic morals through
which compassion, mercy, peace and tolerance can be experienced
all over the world:
You who believe! Enter absolutely into peace
(Islam). Do not follow in the footsteps of Satan. He is an outright
enemy to you. (Surat al-Baqara :208)
The values of the Qur'an hold a Muslim responsible for treating
all people, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, kindly and justly, protecting
the needy and the innocent and preventing the "dissemination of
mischief". Mischief comprises all forms of anarchy and terror
that remove security, comfort and peace. As God says in a verse,
"God does not love mischief makers". (Surat al-Qasas: 77)
Murdering a person for no reason is one of the most obvious examples
of mischief. God repeats in the Qur'an a command He formerly revealed
to Jews in the Old Testament thus:
So We decreed for the tribe of Israel that if
someone kills another person - unless it is in retaliation for
someone else or for causing corruption in the earth - it is as
if he had murdered all mankind. And if anyone gives life to another
person, it is as if he had given life to all mankind. Our Messengers
came to them with Clear Signs but even after that many of them
committed outrages in the earth. (Surat al-Ma'ida: 32)
As the verse suggests, a person who kills even a single man,
"unless it is in retaliation for someone else or for causing
corruption in the earth", commits a crime as if he had murdered
all mankind on earth.
This being the case, it is obvious what great sins are the murders,
massacres and, attacks, popularly known as "suicide attacks",
committed by terrorists are. God informs us how this cruel face
of terrorism will be punished in the hereafter in the following
There are only grounds against those who wrong
people and act as tyrants in the earth without any right to do
so. Such people will have a painful punishment. (Surat ash-Shura:
All these reveal that organizing acts of terror against innocent
people is utterly against Islam and it is unlikely that any Muslim
could ever commit such crime. On the contrary, Muslims are responsible
for stopping these people, removing "mischief on earth" and bringing
peace and security to all people all over the world. Being a Muslim
cannot be reconciled with terror. Just the contrary, it is the
solution and prevention of terror.
This being the case, how did the popular term "Islamic terror"
What has been examined so far reveals that it is not possible
to talk about an "Islamic" terror. Indeed, a closer look at the
characteristics of the perpetrators explicitly reveals that this
terror is not a religious but a social phenomenon.
Crusaders: Barbarians Who Trampled Their Own
used by the Crusaders.
The true message of a religion or another system of belief can
be at times exposed to distortion by its pseudo-adherents. The
Crusaders, who constitute a dark episode of Christian history,
set a good example of this.
Crusaders were European Christians who undertook the expeditions
at the end of the 11th century to recover the Holy
Land (the area around Palestine) from the Muslims. They set out
with a so-called religious goal, yet they laid waste each acre
of land they entered with fear and violence. They subjected civilians
to mass executions and plundered many villages and towns.
Their conquest of Jerusalem, where Muslims, Jews and Christians
lived under Islamic rule in peace, became the scene of immense
bloodshed. They violently killed all Muslims and Jews. The Crusaders'
barbarism was so excessive that, during the Fourth Crusade, they
plundered Istanbul, also a Christian city, and stole the golden
objects from the churches.
fact that Christianity is a religion of love and pacifism,
the Crusaders slaughtered innocent people in the name of
Christ. They misunderstood their religion.
No doubt, all this barbarism was utterly against Christian political
doctrine. That is because, Christianity, in the words of the Bible,
is a "gospel of love". In the Gospel according to Matthew, it
is said that Jesus said "Love your enemies and pray for those
who persecute you" to his followers (Matthew, 5/44) In the
Gospel according to Luke, it is said that Jesus said "If someone
strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also." (Luke,
6/29) No doubt, in no part of the New Testament, is there reference
to the legitimacy of violence; murdering innocent people, on the
other hand, is unimaginable. You can find the concept of "massacre
of the innocents" in the Bible; yet, only in the cruel Jewish
King Herod's attempt to kill Jesus while he was a baby.
While Christianity is a religion based on love that accommodates
no violence, how did Christian Crusaders carry out the most violent
acts of history? The major reason for this is that, Crusaders
were mainly made up of ignorant people who could better be defined
as "rabble". These masses, who knew almost nothing about their
religion, who had never read or even seen the Bible once in their
lifetime, and who were therefore completely unaware of the moral
values of the Bible, were led into barbarism under the conditioning
of Crusaders' slogans as "God wills it".
It is worth mentioning that in that period, Eastern
Christians - the people of Byzantium, for instance - who were
culturally far ahead of Western Christians, espoused more humane
values. Both before and after the Crusaders' conquests, Orthodox
Christians managed to live together with Muslims. According to
Terry Johns, the BBC commentator, with the withdrawal of the Crusaders
from Middle East, "civilized life started again and members of
the three monotheistic faith returned to peaceful coexistence."
The example of the Crusaders is indicative of a general phenomenon:
The more the adherents of an ideology are uncivilized, intellectually
underdeveloped and "ignorant", the more likely they are to resort
to violence. This also holds true for ideologies that have nothing
to do with religion. All communist movements around the world
are prone to violence. Yet the most savage and blood-thirsty of
them was the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia. That is because they were
the most ignorant.
Just as ignorant people may take a violence-ridden opinion to
the point of insanity, so they may confuse violence with an opinion
against violence (or to religion). The Islamic world also experienced
The Bedouin Character in the Qur'an
In the period of our Prophet, there existed two basic social
structures in Arabia. City-dwellers and Bedouins (Desert Arabs).
A sophisticated culture prevailed in Arab towns. Commercial relations
linked the towns to the outer world, which contributed to the
formation of "civilized life" among Arabs dwelling in cities.
They had refined aesthetic values, enjoyed literature and, especially
poetry. Desert Arabs, on the other hand, were the nomad tribes
living in the desert who had a very crude culture. Utterly unaware
of arts and literature, they developed an unrefined, harsh character.
Islam was born and developed among the inhabitants of Mecca,
the most important city of the peninsula. However, as Islam spread
to the peninsula, all tribes in Arabia embraced it. Among these
tribes were also Desert Arabs, who were somehow problematic: their
poor intellectual and cultural background prevented them from
grasping the profundity and noble spirit of Islam. Of this God
states the following in a verse:
The Desert Arabs are more obdurate in disbelief
and hypocrisy and more likely not to know the limits which God
has sent down to His Messenger. God is All-Knowing, All-Wise.
(Surat at-Tawba: 97)
The Desert Arabs, that is, social groups who were "obdurate
in disbelief and hypocrisy" and prone to disobey God's commands,
became a part of the Islamic world in the Prophet's lifetime.
In latter periods, they became a source of trouble for the Islamic
world. The sect called "Kharijis" that emerged among Bedouins
was an example. The most distinctive trait of this perverse sect
(which was called "Kharijis" the rebels because they greatly deviated
from Sunni practises), was their extremely vulgar, wild and fanatical
nature. The "Kharijis", who had no comprehension whatsoever of
the essence of Islam or of the virtues and the values of the Qur'an,
waged war against all other Muslims and based this war on a few
Qur'anic verses about which they made distorted interpretations.
Furthermore, they carried out "acts of terrorism". Caliph Ali,
who was one of the closest companions of the Prophet and was described
by him as the "gate of the city of knowledge", was assassinated
by a Kharijite.
In latter periods, "Hashashis" (Assassins), another brutal organization,
emerged; this was a "terrorist organization" made up of ignorant
and fanatical militants bereft of a profound understanding of
the essence of Islam and thus who could be readily influenced
by simple slogans and promises.
In other words, just as the Crusaders distorted and misinterpreted
Christianity as a teaching of brutality, some perverted groups
emerging in the Islamic world misinterpreted Islam and resorted
to brutality. What is common to these sects and the Crusaders
was their "Bedouin" nature. That is, they were ignorant, unrefined,
uncultivated, vulgar, and isolated people. The violence they resorted
resulted from this social structure, rather than the religion
to which they claimed to adhere.
The Actual Source of Terrorism: The Third World
These examples from history are enlightening for a better understanding
of the phenomenon, the so-called "Islamic terror", which is nowadays
on the top of the international agenda. That is because those
who emerge and carry out acts of terrorism in the name of Islam
or those who back such acts -these people, no doubt, represent
a minority in the world of Islam- stem from this "Bedouin character",
not from Islam. Failing to understand the essence of Islam, they
try to make Islam, essentially a religion of peace and justice,
a tool of barbarism, which is simply an outcome of their social
and cultural structure. The origin of this barbarism, which may
well be called the "Third World Fanaticism", is the benighted
initiatives of people who are devoid of love for humans.
It is a fact that, for the last few centuries, Muslims in all
corners of the Islamic world, are being subjected to violence
by Western forces and their affiliates. The colonialist European
states, local oppressive regimes or colonialists backed by the
West (Israel, for instance) caused great suffering for Muslims
at large. However, for Muslims, this is a situation that has to
be approached and responded to from a purely Qur'anic stance.
In no part of the Qur'an does God command believers to "respond
to violence with violence". On the contrary, God commands Muslims
to "respond to evil with goodness":
A good action and a bad action are not the same.
Repel the bad with something better and, if there is enmity between
you and someone else, he will be like a bosom friend. (Surat al-Fussilat:
It is no doubt a legitimate right of Muslims to react against
cruelty. However, these reactions should never turn into a blind
hatred, an unjust enmity. God warns about this in the following
verse: "... Do not let hatred for a people who debar you from
the Masjid al-Haram incite you into going beyond the limits. Help
each other to goodness and heedfulness. Do not help each other
to wrongdoing and enmity. Heed God Allah (alone)..." (Surat al-Ma'ida:
Consequently, carrying out terrorist acts under the pretence
of "representing the oppressed nations of the world", against
the innocent people of other nations is by no means compatible
Another point that deserves a special mention here is that all
the Western world cannot be held responsible for the aforementioned
colonialist (or "neo-colonialist) violence and oppression against
Muslims. Actually, the materialist, irreligious philosophies and
ideologies that prevailed in the 19th century are responsible
for these dismal acts. European colonialism did not originate
from Christianity. On the contrary, anti-religious movements opposing
the values of Christianity led the way to colonialism. At the
roots of the greatest brutalities of the 19th century
lies the Social Darwinist ideology.
In the Western world today, there are still cruel, mischievous
and opposing elements as well as a culture dominated by peaceful
and just elements that have its roots in Judeo-Christian faith.
As a matter of fact, the main disagreement is not between the
West and Islam. Contrary to the general opinion, it is between
the religious people of the West and of the Muslim world on the
one hand, and the people opposing religion (like materialists
and atheists.) on the other.
Another indication that Third World Fanaticism has nothing to
do with Islam is that, until recently, this fanaticism has been
identified with communist ideology. As is known, similar anti-Western
acts of terror were carried out in 1960s and 70s by Soviet-backed
communist organizations. As the impact of the communist ideology
faded, some of the social structures which gave birth to communist
organizations have turned their attention to Islam. This "brutality
presented under the guise of religion", which is formulated by
the incorporation of some Islamic concepts and symbols into the
former communist rhetoric are entirely against the moral values
constituting the essence of Islam.
radicalism once used the communist ideology to support its
violence. Now it is trying to use religious concepts.
A last remark about this issue is that Islam is not peculiar
to a particular nation or geography. Contrary to the dominant
Western perception, Islam is not an "Eastern culture".
Islam is the last religion revealed to mankind as a guide to the
true path that recommends itself to all humanity. Muslims are
responsible for communicating the true religion they believe in
to all people of all nations and cultures and making them feel
closer to Islam.
Consequently, there is a unique solution for people and groups
who, in the name of Islam, resort to terror or establish oppressive
regimes and turn this world into a dreadful place instead of beautifying
it: revealing the true Islam and communicating it so that the
masses can understand and live by it.
Conclusion: Recommendations to the Western World
Today, the Western world is concerned about the organizations
that use terror under the guise of Islam and this concern is not
misplaced. It is obvious that those carrying out terror and their
supporters should be punished according to international judicial
criteria. However, a more important point to consider is the long-term
strategies that have to be pursued for viable solutions to these
The assessments above reveal that terror has no place in Islam.
They further show the inherently contradictory nature of the concept
of "Islamic terror". This provides us with an important vantage
1) The Western world, especially the United States, will
surely take the most dissuasive measures to cope with terror and
it has the right to do that. However, it has to state explicitly
that this is not a war waged against Islam and Muslims but, on
the contrary, a measure serving the best interests of Islam. The
"Clash of civilizations", the dangerous scenario envisioned in
the 90's should be at all costs prevented.
2) Support should be provided for the spread of "True
Islam", which is a religion of love, friendship, peace and brotherhood,
and for its true understanding by Islamic societies. The solution
for radical factions in Islamic countries should not be "forced
secularization". On the contrary, such a policy will incite more
reaction from the masses and feed radicalism. The solution is
the dissemination of true Islam and the appearance of a Muslim
role-model who embraces Qur'anic values such as human rights,
democracy, freedom, good morals, science and aesthetics, and who
offers happiness and bliss to humanity.
3) The source of terrorism is ignorance and bigotry and
the solution is education. To the circles who feel sympathy with
terror, it should be said that terror is utterly against Islam,
that terror only does harm to Islam, Muslims and to humanity at
large. Besides, these people have to be provided with education
in order to be purified of this barbarism. The United States'
support to such an education policy will yield very positive results.
Our hope is that these measures will help to the world get rid
of terrorism and all other bigoted, brutal, barbarous structures.
With its Christian-dominated culture and population, the United
States, which defines itself as "a nation under God", is in fact
a real friend of the Muslims. In the Qur'an, God draws attention
to this fact and informs us that Christians are those who are
"most affectionate to those who believe". (Surat al-Ma'ida:
In history, some ignorant people (for instance, Crusaders) failed
to understand this fact and caused conflicts between these two
great religions. To prevent the repetition of this scenario, true
Christians and Muslims need to come together and co-operate.
Alan Ereira, David Wallace, Crusades: Terry Johns Tell the
Dramatic Story of Battle for Holy Land, BBC World Wide Ltd.,
Call For An "Islamic Union" >>>
Waiting For Jesus >>>